Gilda didn’t act her age…

Gilda, a 4 year old female mastiff, was brought to the emergency clinic for vomiting, depression and lack of appetite.

Gilda, a 4 year old mastiff

After the veterinarian did a thorough physical exam, he recommended taking X-rays of the abdomen (belly).

The X-rays confirmed the suspicion: a blockage of the intestine by a foreign body, likely cloth. Pets can eat all sorts of crazy things, such as toys, sticks, rocks etc. Puppies (and kittens) are the main culprits because they are inexperienced and silly. And because they explore their environment with their mouth. However, Gilda was not a young pup, so her foreign body was a little unusual. What compelled her to swallow it?

A stomach x-ray

Surgery was performed and sure enough, I pulled a large, twisted up piece of fabric out of her intestine! It was about the size of a hand towel. A biopsy of the intestine was taken before closing the belly.

Gilda recovered smoothly in ICU. She later went home, feeling much better.

After a week, the biopsy results came in and confirmed my suspicion of irritable bowel disease (IBD). This condition is somewhat similar to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in humans. It is often the reason why adult dogs (and cats) swallow a foreign body. They feel weird, and they are compelled to eat things they shouldn’t. This is called “pica” (pronounced pie-ka). Classic signs of IBD may include vomiting and diarrhea.

Long-term, Gilda’s owners’ main focus will be to “puppy-proof” the house and the yard at all times, and to only feed a prescription diet to keep the IBD under control. Sometimes, medications are required to treat IBD.

Fortunately, Gilda’s future looks good.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified

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Dr. Phil Zeltzman

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling veterinary surgeon in Pennsylvania & New Jersey. An award-winning author, he loves to share his adventures in practice along with information about vet medicine and surgery that can really help your pets. Dr. Zeltzman specializes in orthopedic, neurologic, cancer, and soft tissue surgeries for dogs, cats, and small exotics. By working with local family vets, he offers the best surgical care, safest anesthesia, and utmost pain management to all his patients. Sign up to get an email when he updates his blog, and follow him on Facebook, too!